Hua Hin Beaches
Hua Hin is blessed with some attractive, accessible and family friendly beaches. As Hua Hin is situated on the Gulf of Thailand the seas are warm throughout the year, which makes swimming and other beach activities pleasurable at any time. The beaches are fairly clean and the waters shallow, which makes for a safe and enjoyable environment. In high season the beaches can be crowded, but it’s always possible to find a quieter spot. However, in the rainy season there aren’t as many visitors, the sea currents can be stronger and rain showers can be expected most days. Fortunately, it’s seldom long before the sun returns and things quickly dry up.
Foreign holidaymakers and Thais mingle and relax together on Hua Hin’s beaches. First time visitors might be surprised to see fully clothed Thais on the beach and in the water even when the weather is extremely hot. Thais try to avoid the sun, not only for health reasons but because whiter skin is viewed as more desirable in Thailand. Also, Thai society is more reserved than most Western cultures and it’s considered inappropriate to flaunt one’s body in public, especially for women. There are usually a few exceptional cases that can be seen on the beach, however. The contrast between Thai and foreigners’ appearance and behaviour is noticeable and may cause a few raised eyebrows or simply smiles. Try to respect Thai culture and avoid excessive public affection and nudity. It’s rare that foreigners will have any serious issues, but it’s better to be conservative in any case.
Take particular care on the beach when exposed to the sun for long periods and remember to apply sunscreen liberally, as the fresh sea breezes tend to conceal the sun’s strength. It’s advisable to cover up or seek shade especially during the midday sun, as it’s possible to become severely sunburnt even when cloudy and overcast. Hua Hin’s beaches occasionally have problems with jellyfish during the rainy season, so check local reports and watch out for warning signs posted on the beach. Those doing water sports should wear clothing that covers the skin, to avoid any nasty stings that could require hospital treatment. Despite this, every year countless tourists in Hua Hin require medical attention as a result of jellyfish. As always, as long as sensible precautions are taken you should have few problems.
Hua Hin Beach
The beach in Hua Hin is perhaps the major reason why so many holidaymakers like to come here, for an enjoyable seaside break and to experience everything else the town offers. Hua Hin has a little bit of everything and while some might bemoan that it’s somewhat too busy on weekends and national holidays, it continues to be a well-liked beach destination and draws many visitors from all over Thailand and abroad. Some visitors like to spend all day at the beach, topping up their tan or just escaping from the summer heat. On weekdays it’s usually quiet, but come the weekend large numbers of Thais descend on the town and the beach.
From anywhere in Hua Hin it’s easy to get to the beach, and there are several ways to do so. Unlike Cha Am there are no roads parallel to the beach so you have to access at various set locations. Probably the most common entrance on foot is along Damroen Kasam Road which leads past various stalls, the Sofitel hotel, and the tourist police booth, bringing you right onto the beach where most of the restaurants and sun beds are located. There is quite limited motorbike and car parking near here, so it might be better to walk. Another popular route is to follow Naresdamri Road and turn into the small lane at the bottom end close to New World Coffee, continue up past the Chinese temple and to the steps leading down to the beach, right next to the Hilton. There are also signs around town that should point you in the right direction.
Some hotels and resorts such as the Marriott and Baan Laksasubha have their own pool areas and restaurants which join the beach, and several lanes lead to the sea from just off the main Petchakasem Road (such as Sois 79, 83 and 85). On Naeb Kehardt Road, a few minutes from the town centre, you can get to the beach from Soi 51 or through the various restaurants along the road.
Hua Hin’s fine and sandy beach arcs several kilometres southwards towards Khao Takiab, which can be glimpsed in the distance. The sand quality is good and there is ample space to walk and play on the wide shore. The water is not deep and swimming is quite safe, but there are some large rocks in the sea near the main entrance and extremely sharp seashells. Heed the amusingly worded warning signs that read “Careful! The rock full of fishshell”. Hua Hin supposedly got its name due to the rocks on the beach head (Hua Hin literally translates as Head Stone in Thai).
It’s possible to walk south along the shore where restaurants, some water sports and places to relax can be found, as well as sun beds and the occasional palm tree to sit beneath. It’s in this area where most visitors linger, as food and drinks are available and there are enough things to do close by. The further south you go the less crowded it becomes, but there are a few popular spots and watering holes along the way.
Heading north in the opposite direction, access to the beach is eventually hampered by wooden piers housing seafood restaurants and guesthouses, but it’s possible to rejoin the beach further along Naresdamri Road near the fishing pier and continue onwards. You’ll notice the military boats just off the coast, which are there to protect the King’s palace only a short distance away. Further north it becomes a restricted zone, which is prohibited to boats and pedestrians. It’s possible to visit the palace by using the official entrance on Petchakasem Road instead, near Soi 37.
Hua Hin beach is a magnet for rather persistent vendors selling all sorts of paraphernalia, which are a constant but minor annoyance. However, if you do want to buy tacky wooden motorcycles, beach towels or other holiday souvenirs then you can probably pick up a real bargain as long as you’re prepared to haggle hard. As is common in Thailand, stray dogs roam the beach but they tend to be quite harmless. For small children however, there may be health and hygiene issues with such animals.
Where to Eat
There are scores of places to eat on the beach, mainly at the northern end close to the Damroen Kasam Road entrance. For more details see the Dining section of the website. If none of those places tempt you, you might prefer to organise a picnic, grab a beach mat and have an impromptu feast under a palm tree. There are also plenty of vendors around, so you can find some great food without leaving the beach.
If lying on a sun bed all day is a little too sedate, there are plenty of other things to do. Swimming in the sea poses few dangers and the beach slopes very gently. There don’t seem to be any lifeguards however, but they aren’t really necessary here. Water sports are somewhat limited at the beach’s northern end due to the rocks, so it’s only further south where you’ll find most of the water-based activities.
Among the first things you’ll notice are the horses and ponies near the beach entrance,which can be hired for between 15 minutes to an hour. Enjoy a leisurely trot along the beach or race the stray dogs if you’re more confident. The guides will gladly provide basic instruction if you’ve never ridden before.
At weekends it’s common to see inflatable banana boats riding the waves, an especially popular activity with Thai tourists. They’re pulled along at great speed by a jet-ski or speedboat, and the drivers take delight in trying to make the passengers fall off, which is all just part of the fun. Jet-skis can also be rented in Hua Hin, but make sure that you inspect them thoroughly as there have been stories in other cities of tourists being charged excessively for damage that had already occurred.
On windy days there are dozens of kite boarders out in force, demonstrating an impressive array of stunts and skilful manoeuvres. Hua Hin has some excellent kite boarding schools and has become a popular destination for the sport and its followers in recent years. They usually have representatives down on the beach that can give advice on the various programmes available and prices.
Like most things, many of these activities will cost slightly more in the high season when the beach is busier and demand increases.
Khao Takiab Beach
Khao Takiab or Chopstick Hill lies just 7 kilometres to the south of Hua Hin. What was once a quiet fishing village has in recent years witnessed increased tourism development, with international hotels and apartment complexes springing up along the road that runs through the village. Despite this, it’s still considerably less developed than Hua Hin. It remains a popular destination with tourists and Thais, and there is always a large influx of visitors at the weekends. The focal point at one end of the village is the hill itself (sometimes called Monkey Mountain because hundreds of mischievous macaque monkeys have overrun the place), and the long sandy beach which runs for several kilometres further south.
To reach Khao Takiab beach from Hua Hin you can either take your own transport or hop on a local motorbike taxi, tuk-tuk or songthaew bus (by far the cheapest option) from the main Petchakasem highway or at various places around town. Access to the beach itself is fairly straightforward: once through the village take the righthand fork in the road past the police station, and a series of small lanes lead you right down to the beach. Follow the signs to the Blue Wave hotel or the Anantasila resort and you can’t go far wrong.
Khao Takiab beach is a picturesque sandy stretch that gently curves from behind the mountain all the way to Suan Son Pradiphat beach a few kilometres further south.
Dominated on the northern side by the rocky hill, it’s fairly quiet and usually less busy than the beach in Hua Hin. The sand is clean and pebbly in places, and at low tide there is a wide expanse to reach the water which is very shallow and slopes gently.
The northernmost strip is where all the restaurants and activities are located within a five minute stroll, and you’ll find the atmosphere is relaxing and low-key; you won’t even get hassled much by the beach vendors unless you really show an interest. On a weekday and during the low season you might be the only soul on the beach, but Thais tend to arrive later in the day when it’s not so hot. You might even see an impromptu game of beach football played between local children.
Visible just 800 metres from the coast are the tiny secluded islands of Koh Singto (Lion Island) and Koh Tao (Turtle Island, not to be confused with the other Koh Tao near Koh Samui). These are excellent snorkelling and fishing spots that can be reached by boat in around 20 minutes, however there are no scheduled trips so you have to organise your own transportation at Khao Takiab fishing village. Anglers can expect to find squid, grouper and red snapper in abundance amid a very pristine natural environment. Be aware that there are no facilities on the islands themselves.
Where to Eat
Restaurants at Khao Takiab beach are mainly small affairs which offer a dazzling variety of western and Thai cuisine at reasonable prices. Most provide chairs and tables as well as the obligatory sun-beds and umbrellas, and there are enough restaurants here to cater for everyone but without being overcrowded.
Try the Nongkim seafood restaurant (the last one on the beach’s southern end) which offers delicious locally caught seafood, or for a more upmarket experience the Anantasila resort (closer to the mountain) and restaurant has an excellent BBQ lunch (between 11.30 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily) at 690 baht for a huge platter of fresh seafood, as well as a lovely pool set in a verdant tropical garden and live music throughout the day. Alternatively, there are various beach vendors selling snacks such as freshly sliced fruit (watermelon, pineapple, and guava) and roasted, flattened squid at 20 baht each.
The beach activities at Khao Takiab are just as varied as at many larger destinations, however it’s done in a more laid back style here. Besides swimming or paddling in the sea, it’s possible to ride horses and ponies on the beach. Prices start at around 300 to 400 baht or just half that for 15 minutes. The horses seem well looked after and the guides will help if you need assistance. When there are no customers, they can be seen racing each other or just snoozing in the shade.
There are many massage shops dotted along the beach, but you could do worse than try Beach Massage 3 on the northern side near Anantasila. They charge 300 baht an hour (prices are the same everywhere, surely a monopoly!) for a Thai or oil massage.
For an adrenaline rush, thrill-seekers can hire jet-skis at around 1500 baht for 30 minutes, or jump on an inflatable banana boat with some friends, but be prepared to get completely soaked. Gladly, the tranquil atmosphere isn’t spoilt and there are long periods of inactivity, although it does provide some welcome excitement and is an engaging spectator sport.
A few guesthouses and hotels will rent out two person sea kayaks, which is a pleasant way to explore the coastline with a friend. It’s probably even possible to paddle all the way to Koh Singto and back in just a few hours.
Suan Son Pradiphat Beach
Suan Son Pradiphat (Sea Pine Tree Garden), or more simply known as Suan Son, is a remote and tree-lined beach adjoining Khao Takiab but with its own distinctive character. Even many local residents have never visited Suan Son, which is a shame as it’s a lovely unspoilt area that deserves to be more widely known. Perhaps it’s charm is that the beach remains a hidden gem and has not become overcrowded with tourists. The beach and nearby land is owned by the Thai military, but access is granted to the public and there are some basic facilities and accommodation here.
To reach Suan Son by road is simple. Take the main Petchakasem highway south until around 9 kilometres from Hua Hin, where there is a left turn and a small signpost, but blink and you’ll miss it. It’s probably easier to keep an eye open for the large PTT gas station and take an immediate turn beforehand. Note that a modest entrance fee applies to cars, but motorbikes are free. Go past the guarded barrier to enter the army compound and then over the railway line. Turn left and take the next right where you’ll arrive at a small parking area next to the beach. There are also plenty of buses and minivans that leave regularly from Hua Hin on the way to Pranburi. Alternatively it’s possible to take a train, which is almost certainly the slowest option and not all trains will make a stop.
Suan Son is a very pleasant place in which to spend a few hours. The attractive and sandy beach is extremely wide and fringed by large pine trees that provide decent shade. It might appear like there’s not really much here, but there are some friendly beach vendors and a few activities are possible. For sun seekers, deck chairs and sunshades can be rented, and anybody that appreciates nature and tranquility will surely be delighted here.
Most Thai visitors can be found in groups sat under the trees but foreign tourists usually stand out, as Suan Son could be a well kept secret between Thais. There are normally few visitors, which is a welcome contrast with Hua Hin’s busier beaches. Further north, Khao Takiab beach can be reached on foot in less than 10 minutes. In the opposite direction, the Big Buddha statue can be seen at Khao Tao which is about an hour’s walk away.
Accommodation is available in the army resort nearby as well as some small bungalows, but most visitors probably arrive with their own transport and return home later the same day. There is also an intriguing whale skeleton on show close by. It was apparently beached here in 1977 and is now proudly displayed along with some interesting facts about its discovery and history.
Where to Eat
There is an inexpensive restaurant near the car park, which serves drinks all day and occasionally food. A few beach vendors sell fruit and other snacks but don’t count on being able to get a hearty meal here. A picnic on the beach could be a better idea, but you’re advised to bring your own food.
This is a marvellous beach for those that want to avoid the crowds, but there are nevertheless a few things to do apart from simply watching the world go by. A small massage shop is located close to the car park, and a few places on the beach rent out large tyres, presumably to sit on (but other improvisations are possible!). You could just take a walk or throw a Frisbee around, as there is certainly enough space here.
Close to the Petchakasem Road entrance on the right hand side, is an eighteen hole golf course at the Royal Thai Army Sports Centre. It’s cheaper to play on weekdays rather than weekends.
Khao Tao Beach
Khao Tao means Turtle Hill in Thai, but it stretches the imagination a little to work out why the name applies to this particular hill. In any case, Khao Tao is a popular destination just a short drive from Hua Hin and there are a couple of worthwhile beaches here. On arrival, you might assume the main attraction is Haad Khao Tao because all the resort signs lead that way. In fact, that beach is rather bland and most people prefer to visit the much nicer Sai Noi beach instead. Even though, there is an interesting temple complex accessible from Khao Tao beach, and several Thai restaurants along the shore. A small fishing fleet is also based here which can provide some good photo opportunities. Haad Sai Noi or simply Sai Noi beach, is a small and secluded spot and an ideal day trip away from Hua Hin. As
well as the excellent beach, there is a huge Buddha statue on top of the hill which can be reached through a dense forest. Most people just visit Sai Noi beach to unwind and soak up the relaxed atmosphere.
To reach Khao Tao and its beaches, head south on Petchakasem Road for around 14 kilometres until you come to Soi 101. A large signpost indicates the way to Khao Tao but there are two choices when you get to the reservoir. Either continue straight on and follow the signs to Haad Khao Tao or bear right and circumnavigate the reservoir to reach Sai Noi beach. In the latter case, you’ll eventually come to a quiet shaded spot where you can park, and the beach is located directly ahead. The total distance is around 17 kilometres which should take no more than 20 minutes by road. There is an alternative path which follows the lake in the other direction and leads to the beach, but it’s not suitable for cars.
Sai Noi beach is very small compared with the others, but it’s perhaps the nicest one where you can experience a quiet, uninterrupted day without having to do much. The sand is fine and deep, and the beach declines sharply so it’s ideal for swimming as you don’t have to venture far from the shore. The beach lies in a small cove with rocks either side, so the sea views are quite limited but pleasant. There are seldom crowds here, and it has a secluded and even cosy atmosphere. On weekdays and in low season there are never many visitors, but it livens up just enough on the weekends. There are chairs, tables and sun beds and several places to eat. Thankfully, there don’t seem to be any vendors to hassle you, but it’s probably inevitable at some time or another.
Where to Eat
Just about the only places to eat and drink here are the small restaurants on the beach and on the access road just behind. The food is mainly Thai with some European fast food options. When you choose a sun bed or table, the menu arrives sharply and the service is good. Besides the restaurants located here, it’s possible to dine back at Haad Khao Tao or on the approach road, which has dozens of snack stands and a few simple restaurants.
You won’t find horses, jet-skis or banana boats on Sai Noi beach. Instead, it’s possible to swim, have a well deserved massage (there is a small hut on the beach, prices start at 300 baht), take a walk or even play volleyball. There’s a permanent net set up on the beach where a few Thai children come to practice.
For those keen to exercise a little more, some concealed steps on the northern end by the rocks lead up to the splendid Big Buddha statue. The walk takes around 5-10 minutes but once at the top, the views back towards Khao Takiab and the surrounding countryside are reward enough. An adjoining path leads further up to the summit with an impressive view of Sai Noi below.
Besides lounging around at Sai Noi beach, there are a few other things to do back in Khao Tao village such as fishing at the lake or visiting the temple complex. There are several resorts dotted around too which have swimming pools, restaurants and other facilities.
Cha Am Beach
Cha Am is a popular and well known destination with a long, attractive beach that draws tourists in droves. The town has a much more laid back atmosphere than Hua Hin and is generally a lot quieter. Even so, it can be extremely busy on weekends and holidays, with coach loads of Thai visitors arriving for a few days of sun, sea and sand. The beachfront dominates the tourist part of town, which is also where most of the attractions and activities are located.
Some lesser known beaches are located further north such as Puk Tien (14 km away), and some tranquil and isolated beaches are scattered between Hua Hin and Cha Am, usually harder to reach or within a resort or hotel grounds. It’s worth exploring the area as you might discover a few off-the-beaten-track places that few people know about.
Cha Am is within easy reach of Hua Hin, just 25 kilometres away and should take no more than 15 to 20 minutes by road. There are regular minivans and buses from Hua Hin and it’s also possible to get there by train. In most cases you’ll need extra transport such as a motorbike taxi, from the train station or bus stop to the beach. A taxi or tuk-tuk from Hua Hin to Cha Am is not recommended as the cost is inevitably higher, but anyone on holiday with plenty of cash to spend may appreciate the added convenience. Once in Cha Am, getting to the beach is the easy part as a road runs parallel along its length and can be accessed from practically anywhere in town. Just find Soi Long Beach, cross over the road and you’ll be right on the beach. Thankfully there are no hotels, resorts or other buildings blocking access to the beach. Unlike Hua Hin, it’s easy to find parking and there are plenty of spaces either between the pines or in the nearby streets.
Cha Am’s beach hugs a pleasant tree lined road and stretches for miles in each direction. On the clearest days, Hua Hin’s tallest hotels are visible in the distance. Many visitors to Cha Am might not be aware that the town comprises much more than the beach and adjacent roads, but most tourists simply stay near the beach as this is where all the action is, and there isn’t much reason to venture any further.
Due to its length, the beach is rarely crowded (unless there is a local festival or special event happening in which case it’s chockablock) and there is plenty of room for everyone. There are a few areas where tourists congregate but anyone who wants solitude can find it easily. The abundant pine trees provide some welcome shade and the sand is fine, so the beach is understandably popular with Thais but a few foreigners can be found soaking up the sun. The atmosphere here is decidedly different to Hua Hin, but both provide an enjoyable beach side experience.
Where to Eat
You’re spoilt for choice on Cha Am’s beach. Just find a suitable place to sit by a table or sun bed and you’ll be prompted to order from one of the many beachside restaurants. There are also hundreds of stalls and vendors along the entire road so it’s even easier to find a place to eat than in Hua Hin. Since the majority of customers are Thai it’s no surprise that Cha Am has some excellent Thai food and seafood, but it’s also possible to find decent western restaurants and cafes along the beach road and adjoining lanes.
The pink bicycles that can be seen around Cha Am can be hired very cheaply all over the place, and are a great way to explore the beach road and nearby area. Cha Am offers loads of interesting and exciting things to do, and on the beach itself there are such diverse activities as horse riding, banana boats (a firm favourite in Thailand), jet-skis and various beach games including football and volleyball.
Another popular activity in Thailand is massage and Cha Am is no exception. There are countless massage shops all over town, but the best ones can be found in the more upmarket spa hotels and resorts. Otherwise, it’s easy to have a massage on the beach.
You might also see locals searching for edible molluscs and shells at several places on the beach, which doesn’t sound particularly fun but it can be quite a challenge. Unless you want to go home empty handed however, this is perhaps an activity best left to the experts!
Perhaps the ideal thing to do in Cha Am is just to relax and take it easy, as nobody seems in a particular rush and there is little hustle and bustle in this charming seaside town.